I also have bumps on my Heirloom toms. They didn't seem to harm anything. When my leaves started yellowing, I added a little GH CaliMagic. I've only been using 10 ml AG nutes. Hope the picture comes through. I've never posted one before.
Thanks so much for clarifying, Mike.
Punchme is using the LED Ultra - 1.2 gallon reservoir - and the short tomato kit. See the pictures down below in this comment to see what's going wrong.
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My name is Mike. Ginger, I think I misunderstood your question on AeroGardenTalk.com. The 8 ml for the first two feedings, followed by 11 ml was right from AG's website. But I thought you were referring to the Heriloom tomatoes on a Classic. I used, and still use 10 ml on Classics for tomatoes. I use 11 ml for an Ultra/Extra. I think you will see leaf burn at 12 ml nutes. I grew the Mega-Cherry kit on an Extra LED from February to June. I even saw a little leaf burn at 11 ml after the tomatoes arrived. Attached is a photo of the Megas in May. I wish I had a photo when they were ripe, but my camera died and I didn't replace it for a month.
I am more of a pepper guy. I only use 10 ml on Extras/Ultras for peppers or I see leaf curl. Use too little and the leaves yellow. But I am still learning, too.
Nice to meet you folks,
I thought to check with the one person I know who's successfully grown tomatoes in an LED Ultra (maybe Extra) with AG nutes, over on aerogardentalk.com. He says the right dose is 8 ml for the first two feedings (4 weeks), then 10 ml after that. He tried 11 ml but got leaf burn, so found 10 was right for him (parks1510).
Have an awesome time away, Phil!
I know the feeling. Pretty technical myself. And we get so attached to these plants - it's like letting your dog down when they get ill.
But there's life left in those plants yet!
Knock on wood, so far so good with my LED tomato. First blooms opened yesterday, and I switched to fruiting nutes.
Thanks Ginger! I'm halfway out the door and already did the single flush & replace with the 6ML of nutes, so I'll have to wait until I'm back in a week to try some of the more advanced stuff. I did just add the hydrogen peroxide so we'll see if that helps at all. I'll remove the leaves that are clearly dead as well. In any case, when I'm back, I'll do the multi-pass flush before refilling again.
That's interesting what you propose about the CFL bulb. It did cross my mind that it could be something light-related. I say this because the first leaf that got super yellow all over and near the top was one that happens to be under an area of the lighting that's basically 100% white. It's weird because most of the light area is speckled with red and blue LEDs, but this one area in the back/middle is all white ones. I'd be curious to compare notes with someone else to see if theirs is similar. It's weird to think that the Ultra LED could be somehow fundamentally unfit to grow tomatoes because they've promoted it so heavily and speaking specifically of tomato yields. But maybe I got a bum unit.
Well, I'll try more stuff when I'm back. Thanks so much for giving me ideas to pursue. As a technical person, I always feel better when I at least have a plan I can execute against. It's no fun feeling helpless!
Hey, waitaminute... 8 ml nutes? In an Ultra LED reservoir? I think that's too little.
I got a bottle of AG nutes with my Ultra, and it says 12ml for a big plant (or a greedy plant, like a tomato). But! they're talking about the old-size Aerogarden reservoirs, which were 0.8 gallons, if memory serves. The new LED Ultra has a 1.2 gallon reservoir - fully 1.5x as big.
12 ml x 1.5 = 18ml nutes per reservoir full.
Mind you, I haven't tried it. I'm actually using Urban Farm Fertilizers nutes on my Ultra LED tomato. But from reading the bottle - I think 18 ml AG nutes is the right dose. Maybe 16ml when it's feeling unwell.
Wow, punchme. Yeah, that's definitely a disease state. Some thoughts.
1. Add 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide to the reservoir right away as an antibacterial / antifungal. You shouldn't add too much, of course, or it will hurt the roots. But a little can help. Rinsing really thoroughly on the drain and refill (like flush a few times) will probably help, and milder nutes (6ml instead of 8ml) while the plant recovers, can only help.
2. Yes, water can back feed up the tube unless there's a checkvalve on the line to prevent it. I'm not sure it would siphon correctly with a checkvalve - I'd have to play with one to test it.
3. With this much dead stuff, I'd remove all the dead stuff. You need light on the stems to grow replacement branches.
4. It's interesting that you say this happened with another tomato grow under LEDs. Is there any chance you could add a 6500K CFL lightbulb on a timer, shining onto the tomato plants? Like, 14W within 6", or a 23W bulb? Just in a crookneck lamp would do. What I'm thinking is that it might (maybe...) have a light wavelength deficiency. A 6500K CFL should provide any color light that's imbalanced.
But I think you're probably right that there's a disease loose in the reservoir.
Oh, on the hydroponic equivalent of overwatering - yes. A hydroponic plant can be overwatered, and underwatered. Essentially, the hydroponic equivalent is adjusted by nutrient strength - and aeration. So if you give it nutrient solution that's 30% weak, you're watering more, or if 20% extra strong, you're watering sparingly. If there is no aeration / oxygen in the water, that's even more like overwatering - the roots drown.
Hydrogen peroxide also oxygenates the water a bit. Just can't use it very strong.
Good luck! I hope you can save the grow!
Things seem to have worsened in the tomato department since my last post. Lots more yellowing and now starting to brown and fall off. It's not all just the lowest leaves but some near the top that get direct light as well. It does continue to sprout new growth out the top and this all looks healthy and green, and even a couple small tomatoes have started to form, so it's not a total disaster. But it's like the yellowing is "catching up". I've attached photos.
This seems all too familiar to my lousy experience with the last tomato kit I did in this LED garden, which was the Mega Cherry one. Now, in that case, the accelerating yellowing/browing only kicked in after it had grown upward a whole lot. The stalks seemed to become weaker over time, so in that case, they had a hard time supporting even the modest amount of fruit they were producing, even with the trellis support. In this case, these Red Heirloom plants are so still so low (and I'm not sure if that's because of the breed of plant or because they're struggling to grow), and their trunks are so thick, that I don't see any structural issues yet. I just don't see how they can continue to have a long & healthy life if the badness continues to accelerate like this!
As a "technical problem solver" by trade, I'm going to indulge in some exhaustive speculating as to what could possibly be going on and what I could possibly do. I'd appreciate anyone's feedback on what might seem a better/worse avenue to pursue.
1) You mentioned maybe lightening up on the nutrients. I'll certainly give that a shot. I'm about to leave on a week's vacation today, so I'm due to drain it out and replace nutrients anyway. Up to this point I've been giving the Aerogarden-recommended 8ML per feeding, but I'll back it down to 6ML for lack of a better idea of how far to push it.
2) You mentioned the possibility of metabolizing something out of the tap water. When it was just a couple leaves turning slightly yellow on the lowest levels, I hoped it was as simple as that. I'm just using plain old San Francisco tap water, and the jalapeno plants I've had growing next to it (as well as salad greens and herbs I've grown int he past), never seemed to have an issue with it. Now, I have no idea if particular types of plant can be particularly fussy about such things, but I'm willing to experiment. If things look no better in a week, perhaps I could buy some distilled water and try that for a bit, if people think it's worthwhile.
3) I happen to have an Aerovoir that's dispensing the water to both this and an adjacent one that's growing jalapenos. That is, I modified it with extra tubing and a "T-splitter" from an aquarium supply store such that I could have a single reservoir filling to both plants. This has functionally been a success since it's great to know the water levels are always topped off. Now, while I mentally picture this as a one-way path where water just goes from the tank to each aerogarden as their levels get low, I can't help but wonder if there's at a slow/minimal amount of back & forth flow of water between the reservoirs for each Aerogarden and, if so, if maybe the tomato plants don't like something the jalapeno plants are putting into the water? If things are no better in a week, I might take the tomato one off the Aerovoir and fill it by hand for a while.
4) You mentioned that the bumps are likely root formations, and indeed, I've found references online such as http://www.tomatodirt.com/bumps-on-tomato-stems.html that seem to say the same. Now, when I read more at places like that, they do speculate about some of the possible causes that are not-so-harmless. Amusingly, a lot of what they describe are things that would seem to not apply in a hydroponic setup (e.g. over-watering, root damage, etc.), which leads me to my last thought...
5) It's just some kind of disease/fungus. I'm growing indoors obviously, so it's hard to imagine what it could be. But I don't know much about the kinds of things that are just floating around (even in city air) that could upset a tomato plant. Thinking about our environment specifically, I wll say that we've had a lot of construction in our apartmetnt building recently, as there have been issues with water damage, which has led to some mold behind drywall, so a lot of that is surely getting kicked up as they open up areas to repair, and resulting dust which I assume could have various airborne pathogens on it. Perhaps there's just something in there that's hazardous to tomato plants?
Well, like I said above, there's limited things I feel like I can really do, so for now I'll try easing back on the nutrients and see how things look in the next couple weeks. I'd appreciate whatever insight folks might have.
Hey, Punchme, welcome!
I think they look like healthy tomato plants. Unless you have some reason to believe the yellow leaves are bug-infested, I wouldn't prune them off. The lowest leaves of the tomato family often process anything amiss with the water/nutes, so if you prune them off half-dead, the next layer up of leaves just does the impurity processing. So there's no point.
You might want to lighten up on the nutes a bit, if there are yellow leaves. But they may just be shaded or metabolizing something awkward out of the tap water.
The bumps look to me like root formations. Tomato plants have the ability to root all along their stems. They won't turn into roots because they're in the air, but they would if there were damp soil to rest on.
I haven't grown that particular tomato kit, though. Good luck!
I think something went wrong posting your pepper post. Looking into that...